[the pack]

The challenge: fit 71 days’ worth of outfits, toiletries, shoes, accessories, electronics, etc. in my Kelty Red Cloud Jr. 65 pack

The catch: I have a giant mountain of things and I’m not sure where to start…

Not to brag, but I’m usually a pretty expert packer;

I can move in and out of my apartment in a day. Easy! [okay, maybe two, tops.] Put my life belongings in a car? I’ll Tetris that sh*t. Give me three week business trips with a weekend at Sasquatch [a Memorial-Day-weekend music festival] into a carry on [including a sleeping bag & 3person tent!]. I’m on it! …Well, you get the picture :]

For the last 2 years and 9 months, I’ve lived out of messenger bags and carry ons. I’ve mastered the concept of packing light & leveraging basics; I could wear a black skirt and heels with 6 different tops and you wouldn’t even notice. I can wear the same 3 outfits each week and it wouldn’t matter because I’m seeing different people and I’m doing the same exact thing.

…but backpacking? I’ll admit I’m a bit overwhelmed. For my trip, I’ll be working at an orange orchard in Greece [3 wks], traveling all over Italy [2 wks], and volunteering at a bed&breakfast in France [4 wks]. I need clothes for all occasions. Plus my July-October travel dates mean I’ll be overlapping summer & fall.

I’ve read all the blogs about mixing and matching and layering for Europe. I’ve picked out only the necessities! I promise!

[womp womp] My first trial pack was a bust. Either my back will break or my belongings will spontaneously burst from the seams. Back to the pack!

[three hours later…and with several updates throughout]

I’m at 40 30 28 pounds with my pack pretty kind of? stuffed looking and feeling good.

What do you think? What else can I get rid of? Anything I’m forgetting? Let me know!

Here are my before&after numbers so far…

3 2 pairs of leggings [1 cropped, 2 1 full length – I’ll wear a pair while traveling]
5 4 3 pairs of jeans [1 denim, 1 black, 1 khaki, 1 olive green]
2 1 jean shorts, 2 gym shorts
2 1 skirts [1 knee-length black, 1 long, random patterned wrap skirt]

2 light, loose, long sleeved button up shirts [1 plaid, 1 demin -I’ll wear this while traveling too]
5 thin, short sleeved tshirts [white, grey&white striped, grey, maroon, light pink – I’ll be wearing one while traveling. Hooray, layers!]
5 4 blouses [short sleeves: white, yellow, red-orange w/gold buttons, 3/4: black, and black patterned]
6 layering tank tops [whites, grey, pink, blue, black – wearing while traveling!]
2 cardigans [1 long-sleeved pink, 1 3/4 sleeved light teal]
1 light hoodie
1 light zip up hoodie [wearing while traveling – layers, layers]
1 light, compact rainjacket [also wearing – I think I’ll look a bit bulky with all the layers, but if it saves my back & pack, why not]
2 dresses [1 long-ish printed navy-white maxi, 1 blue-ish shorter]

2 flip flops
1 pair of boots [I’ll be wearing these while traveling]
1 pair of nude leather flats
1 pair of tennis shoes
1 pair of nude low heels [maybe I can ditch these?]

2 sports bras [maybe I can leave a couple?]
4 2 bras
15 12 6 pairs of underwear [I have no idea how often I’ll be able to do laundry..]
1 bikini
7 4 3 pairs of socks [5 3 2 ankle, 2 1 long]
2 nylons

1 straw hat [for working outside]
1 beanie [for the colder weather?]
2 scarves [1 light&airy, 1 plaid&warmer -it’s also long enough for a blanket/shawl – wearing this one while traveling too]
4 3 2 belts
1 set of leather working gloves
1 set of arm covers [thanks, mom!]
1 neck gator
random necklaces/bracelets, & my leather watch

2 boxes of Contacts
Lotion [I suppose I can get this abroad along with shampoo, conditioner, and toothpaste]
Travel Baby Oil [doubles up as eye make up remover & body moisturizer]
Foundation, Mascara, Eyeliner, Blush&Brush
Nail Clippers
Tweezers & Magnifying Mirror
Deodorant [maybe ditch this & buy there?]
2 chapsticks
100% Deet Spray [bug bites are the worst]
After Bite pen & Anti-Itch ointment [thanks, Carla!]
Face lotion – only 1 oz.
2 Travel Anti-bacterial
Travel Neosporin
Travel sized Rubbing alcohol
REI Travel towel
Wet wipes & Face wipes

1 HP Envy Tablet with keyboard
1 Ipod shuffle & earphones
1 Nikon camera
2 power adapters
1 travel hairdryer, 1 travel straightener/curling iron

1 mini European travel book [I think I’ll rip out the pages that I need]
1 rubber, flex-laundry line
1 Platypus 70L water bottle & hose
1 inflatable travel pillow
1 Petzl headlamp
1 Kelty Flashlight/Lamp
1 sleeping bag [realistically, I don’t think I’ll need this anymore]
1 yoga mat [eh, debatable as well]
1 mini duct tape
1 18 daypack
1 small clutch/purse
lots of zip lock bags

The End Result:


It’s been a long afternoon of packing, re-packing, folding, re-folding, counting, smushing, zipping, and strategizing but I feel pretty good about my pack contents. I’ll let you all know in a couple months how I fared!

Thanks for all the comments & suggestions so far! So helpful! :]


16 responses to “[the pack]

  1. I suggest bringing soap you can hand wash in the sink with that can also double as body/hair soap (dr bronners or simply Shea are good options) and trim down some of the redundancy…cut 2 sports bras and 2 regular bras, 2-3 blouses, 1 pair of pants (heavier ones, it’s easy to wash leggings in the sink!) and a couple pairs of socks. Cut the heels. Replace the sleeping bag (as long as you will really not sleep outside) and yoga mat with a nice sarong, you can use as a skirt, shawl, sheet, and yoga area (not squishy like a mat, but more inviting than the ground). I just read that you can make effective deodorant in a little spray bottle with some everclear and some essential oil, which might save weight/space.

    • Thanks, Carla! Good idea on the soap! I’ve generally stayed away from it because it leaves my skin feeling kind of waxy and dry, but I’ll look into it!

      I know I definitely need to cut out the extras :[ It’s tough but your ideas are a good start! I think I’m coming to terms with ditching the sleeping bag, yoga mat, and heels.

      Everclear as a deodorant?! Oh my… :]

  2. Three months is a long time! When I went last summer I wore a few basic items over and over, and did laundry in the sink as necessary (not glamorous, but it works!). A couple suggestions: you could buy work pants in Greece and leave them there when you’re done (then they’re never in your pack). You could also probably cut down on the leggins, blouses, and tank tops. By September/October you’ll be wearing a hoodie over your top anyway. And save room for shopping in Europe! Why not plan on buying at least one scarf there, and maybe some tops? Then they at least won’t be in your pack on the way there, and they’ll be a cool souvenir. And I would probably ditch the heels (cobblestones + heels = sprained ankle in no time). Whatever you do: have fun!! Can’t wait to read all about your adventures!

    • Thanks, Annie! I like the idea of buying things abroad but honestly my travel funds are getting a bit low so I’m going to have to be a bit more frugal with my purchases [oy!]. Realistically, though, I know I’ll be buying something[s], so I’ll have to free up some room for sure.

      I think after Greece I can get away with ditching a couple pairs of pants/leggings. I wear tank tops the way boys wear under-shirts. I could probably cut down on a couple, but I know I’ll go through them quickly and toss them throughout the trip. Definitely going to leave the heels :]

  3. Lose at least one pair of flip flops: if they wear out/break, buy another pair for a few bucks (and don’t bring them home: they’s cheap). Keep in mind you may buy other clothes (whether you want to or have to) on the road. And you’re on the right track with toiletries: anything you might run out of and have to replace anyway, you might as well buy after you get there (don’t bring home half-bottles of anything like that either: gift it to someone or pitch). Also, tell your doctor you’ll be travelling and ask for a “just in case” Rx of antibiotics, maybe two. Consider a decent fold-up poncho (they do make some sturdier ones than the Hefty-looking things) instead of a whole rainjacket.

    • Thanks, Joe! Good point on the flip flops. I have a bit wider feet [or so I think] so I may hold onto the second pair; they’re lightweight and take up virtually zero space.

      I did try to get some prescription meds from my PCP before I left but she said all the over-the-counter stuff should suffice. Perhaps I just didn’t ask for the right things? Anything you think I should go back and get?

      I might have to nix the poncho; I’m really excited to bring [and am completely in love with] my REI rainjacket, it’s super lightweight, compact, and I can wear it for all occasions!

    • Ah! Thanks for the link! I read a couple of Q’s blogs and I’ve resolved to take out some more clothes! Here we go…

      Honestly, it’s a wonder she packed so light. I’m in awe!

  4. Compact and/or lightweight are good, just don’t overlook opportunities for disposables. I always felt that general antibiotics would be good to have in case of a stomach bug, but I didn’t think you could get them OTC.

    • That’s good advice on the disposables; I’ll definitely remember that! I think a part of me can be a big, giant, hoarder. That, mixed with the need to be prepared for everything all the time sometimes leads me down a path to overpacking.

      Do you have any recommendations for antibiotics? When I went to my doctor, I mostly asked about anti-itch ointments [I really hate bug bites] and didn’t think to ask about stomach medicines.

  5. Make sure you keep in mind the things you will accumulate along the way. My 3 month stint in Central/South America resulted in me having to find a place in the middle of nowhere to purchase a $300 suitcase because that’s all they had. My next 3 month stint in Asia, I made sure to take bi-weekly trips to the post office, which can add up but you’re better off then lugging around souvineers the whole time.

    Also, you could probs ditch the travel books all together and download e-books on your Envy. There are some really good travel apps that you can also download on your iPhone to help you along the way (http://www.timeout.com/travel/features/1169/the-worlds-50-best-travel-apps – there’s even a packing app!).

    Have fun!

    • Yikes! Why did you have to purchase another suitcase??

      I’ve got quite a bit of room left in my pack for the extras that I might accumulate along the way..but I didn’t think about mailing things home! That’s a good idea!

      E-books! Brilliant! I’m borrowing my dad’s Envy so I forget all the crafty things you can download. [For being in IT, you’d think I’d be more technologically savvy!] Checking out the website link right now!

      Thanks for the tips, Leora!

      • The suitcase was for all the additional items I got along the way… Souvineers I purchased for friends and family mostly bc I didn’t want to stuff them in my bag in case they broke! The only option (because I didn’t think about mailing) was this store in Mexico that didnt sell any bags cheaper than 200 bucks, ugh!

      • Oh geez. See what happens when you’re too nice?! Just kidding. I’m so glad you brought that up, though, because that wouldn’t have crossed my mind.

        I also packed daypack…which I originally was going to use as a day trip thing for sightseeing, but I could probably use that as a 2nd luggage for souvenirs. I’ve also wrapped my shoes in one of those Urban Outfitters cloth bags in case I need another satchel for groceries or just dirty laundry storage.

        At any rate, I think I’ll be mailing souvenirs home [if postage isn’t too expensive]. Watch out for one in the next couple months! [It’ll probably arrive along with Matt’s package :]

  6. Hi,

    My name is KC Owens; I’m a college student who loves to travel! While cruising the Internet, I found Simplysheu and really enjoyed reading your posts. Personally, I think traveling is a necessary part of life as you’re exposed to all sorts of new cultures and experiences. While enjoying time abroad, I’ve found it’s crucial to fully understand the dangers that you might encounter along the way. These mishaps are part of life and certainly part of travel but it’s always a great idea to take preventive measures to help ensure your safety while abroad.

    I was hoping that you would allow me to write a post for your site to share my travel safety tips with your readers? I put a lot of time and passion into my traveling and I would love to help others by offering safety advice as a result of the mistakes and triumphs I’ve had. I look forward to hearing from you!


    KC Owens

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